The Hutch News has published a couple of articles on the issues of the rail to trail conversion in Reno County (read them here and here). There are holdouts that are preventing expansion of the rail trail projects into the Hutchinson area – basically, it takes the cooperation of the landowners to allow the unused rail lines to be converted into a trail system with a variety of objections from concerns about litter, vandalism, and more. The article outlines how many of these objections haven’t manifested themselves on current rail trail projects, but change can be hard.
There are also potential legal issues for railbanking, which came from a 1983 trails act.
It will come as little surprise to find out that we are pro-trails (we did write the book on them!). We spent time on all of the complete rail trails in the state (Prairie Spirit – one of our top 10 trails!, Southwind, Meadowlark, Prairie Sunset, Valkommen and more) as well as the in progress Flint Hills Nature Trail.
Trails like this can boost the economy of small towns along the corridors and it helps with the health of locals.
We’ve also spoken with Clark Coan, a prominent rail trails advocate.
What do you think? Are you for or against more rail trail projects in Kansas, particularly Reno County? Let us know in the comments below!
Assuming the right-of-ways are properly railbanked, adjoining landowners really don’t have any say in the matter — the trail organization has full legal rights to the land for the purpose of building trails. Of course, the adjoining landowners can try to stop the trail through threats, intimidation, or legal posturing, and that’s really all that’s happening in Reno County. Shame on them for being such obstinate jerks.